Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Creminelli Salami

Creminelli Salami
At Pike Place Market there is a little handcrafted salami stand where you can get some nice salami and sausage. The place is called Creminelli and our favorite is the Salami Tartufo – a salami with truffle shavings. We’ve also had the Cacciatore which is nice too. Creminelli is a fairly new American artisan maker of salami but with a founder with a longer history of salami-making in Italy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Carosello – Italian Ads

Italian Carosello LogoMina Carosello Ad Barilla 1967
Left: Carosello Logo. Right: Mina surrounded by boxes of Barilla pasta in a 1967 Carosello Barilla ad.

We were out to dinner with our Italian friends and the talk turned to music – as it always happens when we are around. They mentioned that the carosello ads that used to appear on Italian TV. Intrigued, we looked them up and found an interesting story of the Italian media culture. 

Carosello ads aired just before bedtime (for children) at 8:45pm from the late 1950s to the mid 1970s and were a cultural touchstone for those that grew up watching them. As pointed out on bavatuesdays, the ads are not always obvious in terms of what they are selling. You have to wait and watch them to see where they are going. 

A list of ads can be found at mondocarosello.com with some video clips (you have to wait a bit to get the video). YouTube may be more useful for a quick fix. 

In this carosello video from 1967, in the first 30 seconds of the video can you tell what Mina is selling? 

Mina is selling Barilla pasta in that clip. The first few frames of the clip say "Barilla presenta Mina".  But before getting to the pasta, she is sings the song Ta ra ta ta Fumo Blu (1967) about how she loves a man who knows how to smoke. To her, that’s a real man. The lyrics are:

Con me
Tu puoi fumare la tua pipa quando vuoi
Perché mi piaci molto di più
E sei così romantico

Fumo blu, fumo blu
Una nuvola e dentro tu
E poi, e poi
Se un uomo sa di fumo
Ma sì, ma sì
È veramente un uomo
Io ti amerò finché vorrai
Proprio perché sei così

Which can be translated as:

With me
You can smoke your pipe when you want
Because I like you even more
And you are so romantic

Blue smoke, blue smoke
A cloud with you inside
A man who smells like smoke (or knows how to smoke)
Ah yes
Is truly a man
I'll love you as long as you want
Because you are like that

At the end of the Fumo Blu Carosello clip, Mina does a spot for Barilla pasta and she says how Barilla pasta reveals the grand chef in you! She says:
Con Barilla
Capolavoro di pasta
Potete fare ogni giorno 
Un capolavoro di buona cucina
B come buona cucina
B come Barilla
Con Barilla 
Rivelate la gran cuoca che c'è in voi
É così davvero
C'e una gran cuoca in voi 
E Barilla la rivela

Which can be translated as:
With Barilla
Masterpiece of pasta
Every day you can make
A masterpiece of beautiful cooking
B for good cooking
B for Barilla
With Barilla
Reveal the great cook in you
That's a fact
There a great cook in you
And Barilla reveals it
In this related YouTube video with Mina, you even get cooking tips for the pasta, but you have to wait to the end of the music video naturally. 

Phelps, Bigfoot, and Presidentialism

Alexis de Tocqueville

What do these three things have in common? Perhaps nothing really, but in my early-morning, crow-cawing-pierced, groggy Saturday morning mind they all united in a common theme: fascination with the “top dog” to the exclusion of everything else. I know, sour grapes in regards to Phelps and his medals, but it did not sit well with me the response and media coverage of his effort. It seemed so over-the-top to the exclusion of all other possible stories. Now a pending book. Then throw in another Bigfoot hoax. People just want to believe there is a “big guy”, a “top dog” out there waiting to be discovered. The "discovery" was complete with an official news conference put on by the two car salesmen who made the find. Psst, hey reporters, you know that Bigfoot doesn’t exist and besides (exclusion theme) we have so many other serious problems (war, poverty, etc.) to deal with? Finally, there is the vice president choice for the two presidential candidates. Does it matter? Not really according to many and it displays our endless fascination with the “top dog”. In an interesting piece called The Conquest of Presidentialism, presidentialism as defined by Vanderbilt professor Dana Nelson is: our paternalistic view that presidents are godlike saviors—and therefore democracy’s only important figures. In the same piece there is a reference to a quote by Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 – 1859), a French historian who made some astute observations about 19th century American democracy that are still relevant today, which I’ll repeat here. The quote refers to our capability to select leaders. True or false?

“It is in vain to summon a people, which has been rendered so dependent on the central power, to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity.” (Democracy in America, Volume 2)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Prompt if device unused for…

What did I expect? A new device running a Windows OS (on Samsung BlackJack II -previous post) and with a day or so I need to tweak the registry. To tweak the registry I used CeRegEdit. Why? Because I connected to an Exchange Server in the sky and it squirted some security policy changes down to my phone so that it would not let me select “Prompt if device unused for” checkbox. This meant I had to enter a complicated password every time I unlocked. I’m fine as long as I was talking to Exchange, but after I discontinued that partnership/connection I should at least have the phone go back to the way it was. But no. I followed the advice in this post and it worked great. Basically, connect to the registry of the device and change the HKLM/Security/Policies/Policies/00001023 to 1. Ironically, I think having a password is good, just that I want the flexibility to determine when I want it.

The password settings in Windows Mobile located under Start\Settings\Security\Device Lock.

Monday, August 18, 2008

To All the Watches We Loved Before: Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes

Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes

As I was taking a last look at all the watches we collected over the last 20+ years I just had to hear Disco Tex and the Sex-o-lettes. In my head, somehow the watches reminded me of the Disco Tex’s classics: I Wanna Dance Wit’ Choo and Get Dancin' ("...my chiffon is wet darling..."). The watches were in a brown paper back buried in the closet, much like many a Disco Tex record? Sorry, if these songs enter your brain.

Old Watch Collection

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Argh, They Hooked Us Again

Samsung BlackJack II

Why oh why could we just not keep our old phones and save a bundle of money? No, instead we both have fancy new phones (the same), just different colors. (We get the same phones because one of us is hardware-challenged and relies on the other for instruction.) The phone: the Samsung BlackJack II. The screen is a little small-ish and the headphones and the USB are not standard. Also, can’t use my old SIM storage card because it takes a different sized one. So far, the jury is out. We are on a family plan which is suppose to save you money, but with the features we added is actually costing us more.

J.P. Patches Lands in Fremont

J.P. Patches - Seattle clown

Last night we were eating at Blue Moon Burgers in the technology-canal-alley in Fremont (Adobe, Getty, Google, etc. reside there) when we discovered a new statue is to be unveiled in this corporate-park-lite (sorry, it’s not up to Fremont-funky yet). The new statues are just a couple of steps away from the (in)famous Waiting for the Interurban and a bit further from the Fremont Troll, Lenin, and the Rocket.

The new statue is a tribute to J.P. Patches the Clown. Who? J.P. Patches (aka Julius Pierpont Patches) was a clown portrayed by Seattle entertainer Chris Wedes (born 1928). The J.P. Patches show was the longest-running children’s television show in the U.S., appearing on Seattle’s KIRO channel for 23 years from 1958 to 1981. Its improv-nature and double entendres must have been a hit because the show is fondly remembered by several generations. We never saw it having moved to Seattle in the early 1990s. Sigh, non-natives just don’t understand. Well, we hope the statue is a smashing success and what’s not to like about some public art? Well some self-appointed hipsters already don’t like it – but the Stranger generally hates most anything that doesn’t pertain to sex.

Here is the kickoff video from last year with the mayor of Seattle.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sprezzatura – 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the World

The term “sprezzatura” may not be familiar to everyone. The book Sprezzatura* – 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the Word even footnotes the definition on the front cover: * “the art of effortless mastery”. Of course our faithful 6 Travelmarx readers may recall that we have already mentioned this in previous posts Baby You’ve Got Some Sprezzatura and Child Sprezzatura. In those posts we defined it as a certain nonchalance that makes what one does seem uncontrived and effortless.

The book in question is by Peter D’Epiro and Mary Desmond Pinkowish. It consists of 50 short chapters or passages on different aspects of Italian genius. Mostly the genius is a person or persons, but a few cases the chapters deal with an entity like the Roman Republic or Venice. The book pretty much goes in chronological order but each chapter can be read in any order. (At Travelmarx we prefer to read starting from the back of the book. And in this case, this works well.)

The book reminds me a lot of the series Connections, because each chapter is like the start of a detective story. There are enough names and dates dropped in any given chapter to keep you researching for days. One detective story stood out for me is Chapter #31 Catherine de’ Medici: Godmother of French cuisine where we start with Catherine de’ Medici (1519 – 1589), talk about Platina’s Book – an Italian cookbook from 1474, the Sicilian Francesco Procopio and what he was doing in Paris, Café Procope, Maria de’ Medici (1575 – 1642) – another Medici French queen, and finally La Varenne (1618 – 1678) who worked in Maria’s kitchen.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

What’s the Difference Between the Italian and Mexican Flag?

Italian Flag (left) and Mexican Flag (right)
Flag of Italy Flag of Mexico

Recently, we hung an Italian-flag windsock on our deck as a prop for an upcoming party and realized that the colors of Italian flag looked a lot like the Mexican flag on first glance. (A neighbor dutifully noted the windsock and commented that she was surprised because we were not “windsock” people.)

So what are the differences between the Italian and Mexican flags? The Italian flag is a vertical tricolor (in Italian Il Tricolore) of green, white, and red. The Mexican flag on first glance is the same except the there is a coat of arms in the center white stripe. However, there are a couple of subtle differences. The Italian flag uses lighter shades of green and red and the Italian flag has an aspect ratio (width:height) of 3:2 while the Mexican flag is 7:4.

The Mexican coat of arms in the white band of the flag is an eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus with a snake in its beak and talons.

The meaning of the colors for the Italian flag depend on who you ask. One common and poetic interpretation you might hear is that green is the countryside, white is the snowy Alps, and red is the blood spent during wars for Independence. A less poetic but more accurate explanation is that the Italian flag was first created in 1797 during the short-lived Cispadane Republic of Northern Italy. The red and white were already colors of the flag of Milan and green was based on the color of uniforms. The Italian flag was written into the constitution in 1947 as a tricolor: green, white and red in vertical bands of equal size.

The meaning of the colors for the Mexican flag likewise is not fixed, but can be taken to mean roughly: green = hope, white = purity and red = blood of national heroes (as pointed out by several comments below, in particular the comment August 26, 2017 at 5:53 PM).

The flags for Ireland and Côte d’Ivoire look similar to the Italian and Mexican flags, except they use orange instead of red.

Flag of Ireland (left) and Flag of Côte d’Ivoire (right)
Flag of Ireland Flag of Cote d'Ivoire

If you are into more similarities, a few pointed out in the comments, there are also these:

Biking To Work (Sort Of)

Burke-Gilman Trail

So I’m only biking about 8 miles a day, but it’s something. It makes the 2 hour (total) commute a little bit more palatable knowing that for half of it I’m getting a little exercise. I bike from Fremont to Montlake and then take a bus to the east side. I hope it doesn’t rain for the next year.

Most of the trip is on Seattle’s Burke-Gilman trail which was once part of the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I Can’t Believe I’m Working (Again)

Week two of a contract position at a large software firm on the east side. Uh, which would that be? So far so good. Good team, good people, interesting work. The weirdest part is seeing faces I recognize from years ago on past assignments. This if followed by the inevitable search through the address book to see what fabulous title they have now and you don’t, then a sigh, and back to work.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

TravelMarx Music Recommendations: Watershed and Blame Sally

kd Lang - WatershedBlame Sally - Blame Sally

The first recommendation is K.D. Lang’s Watershed. By the second listen we were hooked. It’s laid back, restrained. The songs are deceptively simple and they are all similar in pace and delivery. This can have the effect of making the songs seem to blur together. For me the effect is dreamy – to each his own.

The second recommendation is Blame Sally’s Blame Sally. On the first play I was hooked. It’s the album I put on at work to pull me through the day. The opening strains of the wistful first track, Birds Fly South, let me know I can get through the rest of the day reasonably sane.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Can’t Believe I’m Knitting

How to Knit - Only 10 Cents - circa 1941How to Knit - Only 10 Cents - circa 1941

Knit 2, Purl 2. My new mantra. Hello knitting. We were taught by Noni. I’m making a scarf (how original) and Mark is making a pot holder that is knitted and then shrunk via washing (called felting). Knitting is actually very computer-like. The two knit stitches, knit and purl, are like ones and zeros. You can assemble them in endless patterns. A knit stitch on one side is a purl stitch on the other.

The toughest part about knitting for me is backing up when I made a mistake several stitches ago. Also, I hold my yarn too tight, so my stitches are quite dense.